The race’s white jersey showed huge strength and excellent timing on his way to becoming the first Luxembourger in 56 years to score a stage victory at the Corsa Rosa.
Bob Jungels sprinted to his maiden World Tour victory Sunday afternoon, when a wild stage unfolded at the Giro d’Italia as soon as the flag was waved. The 24-year-old, who enjoyed a five-day stint in the maglia rosa before moving into the white jersey, put in a brutal attack on the cobbled climb of Bergamo Alta, his huge acceleration catching many of his opponents off guard and forcing an important selection.
After instigating that move on the short and steep hill which last year featured on the route of Il Lombardia, Bob was joined on the descent by defending champion Giro d’Italia Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida), race leader Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb) and Nairo Quintana (Movistar), among others, and the newly-formed group powered ahead to the finish line, which was less than four kilometers away.
Nibali pushed hard to distance the others, but it was to no avail, as the select group stayed together and continued to ride at a huge speed, stretching their lead over the chasers. In the last kilometer, they pulled back a combined attack of Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) and Domenico Pozzovivo (AG2R), before Jungels took the front of the group, driving it to the finish.
The stage concluded with a sprint between the GC contenders, and Bob carefully bided his time and came out of the slipstream of Pozzovivo with 150 meters to go, making use of his huge time trial power and roaring over the line arms aloft, ahead of Quintana and Thibaut Pinot (FDJ). It was a victory for the history books, as the 24-year-old became only the second Luxembourger ever to win a stage at the Giro d’Italia, after Charly Gaul in the ’50s and ’60s.
I’m very happy for this win, but I must admit I still can’t realize what happened. I am super proud for taking such a big and historical success in the colors of my country
“This victory is for my team and for Luxembourg, I hope I gave my countrymen something to celebrate about today”, said Bob before taking us through the final meters of the 199km-long stage between Valdengo and Bergamo.
“I had strong legs, felt good on the climbs, but wasn’t thinking of this outcome. When I saw Nibali moving up on that hill, I decided to have a go and attack; the atmosphere on the climb was incredible and I couldn’t hear Davide Bramati in the earphones, who was encouraging me from the car. I knew it was going to be tight, as all the riders in the group would be interested in the win and the bonus seconds. Fortunately, I also had a bit of luck, being in a perfect position in the last meters and launching the sprint from the wheel of Pozzovivo. To take a stage at the Giro in front of such a quality field is really incredible”, explained the best young rider of the race.
Sunday’s win – the fifth for Quick-Step Floors since the start of the race – came after one of the fastest stages in the history of the Giro d’Italia (46.48 km/h), one in which our team was protagonist right from the start, first with Dries Devenyns, who ignited a break which stayed clear for 100 kilometers, and later with Fernando Gaviria, who infiltrated in the second escape of the day and continued to further extend his lead in the maglia ciclamino standings by taking the second intermediate sprint.
Basically, one third of the race’s 15 stages so far have been won by Quick-Step Floors, who also holds two distinctive jerseys with Gaviria and Jungels; the latter comfortably sits in eighth place in the general classification, where another of the team’s youngsters, Laurens De Plus, moved up several places after a very solid second week, which saw him feature in the break and help Bob on the climbs.
“It’s an exceptional Giro d’Italia for us and I am proud not only of the results, but also for showing a great team spirit since the start. This adds extra motivation for the final week. Today the course was similar to the one of a classic and it really suited me, but I know that the remaining stages will be very tough and demanding. The plan is to take it day by day and see how things pan out”, concluded Bob after the team’s 30th victory of the season.
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele